A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know Little Robot is a graphic novel by Ben Hatke (Zita the Spacegirl) that centers on a lonely, resourceful little girl and an equally lonely little robot. The young heroine is refreshingly unconventional: non-white, not very well-off, and brilliant with tools. A large, fearsome machine chases the robot and gobbles up a cat, and there's a scene where the robot pauses by a dead squirrel in the woods. Before she meets the robot, the little girl doesn't appear to have caring, attentive adults or friends in her life -- she seems wary of the grown-ups around her. There is very little dialogue in the book -- it's a lengthy but absorbing option for beginning readers.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
A young girl slips away from her home in a trailer park to explore a dumping area in the woods. She opens a trashed box and discovers a little robot. The girl helps him learn to get along in the world, from taking his first steps to understanding what it means to be alive. He's happy for her friendship, but he longs to find other creatures like him. Meanwhile, a large, menacing robot dispatched to find the lost worker bears down on them. He captures the robot and rumbles away with him. The little girl, armed with her tool kit, sets out to save him and their friendship.
Is it any good?
Loneliness and longing get lovely treatment in this nearly wordless book by Ben Hatke, who's created another gem of a heroine with the barefoot, nameless, wrench-wielding brown-skinned girl. She's the heart of LITTLE ROBOT, striking out on her own in pursuit of adventure and finding an unusual friend.
There's little dialogue: Many pages pass without words, punctuated only by the "jonk" and "pling" of machines or the mewlings of a cat. Hatke packs in lively action sequences and ominous suspense but also takes advantage of opportunities to pause along the way: to soak up a sunset, feel the rumble of a passing train, or quietly observe a dead squirrel. The little girl's expressive face is an understated marvel -- guarded, joyful, soft and open, friendly, fierce. She's a charming flag-bearer for creative, independent spirits ... who make wonderful friends.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the graphic novel format. Would you enjoy this story as much -- or more -- if it were a more traditional chapter book or a movie?
At the story's start, do you think the little girl is sad or content to be on her own?
How does this girl compare with other female characters in books you've read?
- Author: Ben Hatke
- Illustrator: Ben Hatke
- Genre: Friendship
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs, Robots
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: First Second
- Publication date: September 1, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 6 - 9
- Number of pages: 144
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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